Glimpses of Home

I sit cross-legged on the floor of our bedroom. Empty boxes wait to be filled, and letters and cards from years past are strewn around me in a semi-circle. It’s the best and worst part of packing for our move. They beckon me to slow down from the rush of productive work and indulge myself on a stroll down memory lane. I linger longer while looking over old Christmas cards of friends and their families and marvel at the progression of families over time- couples becoming families, families becoming fuller. As if watching a short film of each of them, the memories behind their smiling faces flash through my mind- the moments of pure and profound joy and the aches that darkened days and months. We had loved, celebrated, grieved, and cherished one another, and I sigh with contentment and heartache as I put the cards into a box and tape it closed.

***

It’s been a year since that moment on the floor. I haven’t touched the boxes since putting them in storage, but with the holidays around the corner, I can feel the familiar ache coming back. It’s a deep, pressing pain in my gut for something that once was and something that isn’t yet, something I’ve gotten glimpses of but haven’t experienced the fullness of yet. It’s a longing for home.

To me home has been found in places around the world and in people in each of those places, but each time the feeling is brief. Most days, home seems nebulous and elusive. It’s a side effect of growing up overseas, of being more than one culture, of never fully belonging in one group or the other. I hoard letters and cards because they’re souvenirs to the moments when home felt solid and tangible. They’re a way of holding those very moments in my hands over and over again.

The ache comes back with the holidays because holidays are for gathering, for throwing parties, for opening our doors and arms wide for the lonely, the hungry, and the hurting. The holidays are for inviting them into our homes and being home to the ones who are far from theirs or who have never experienced its warmth before. The holidays are about love, about remembering, dreaming, longing, and about hope. The ache reminds me to pay attention. Each Christmas card, each gathering, meal, conversation, and act of kindness contain the potential to have home feel tangible once more.

Like a kid eagerly anticipating gifts under the tree, I can’t wait to hear the thud of envelopes being dropped into our mailbox in the weeks to come. I can’t wait to hold everyone’s beautiful cards and display them where I can see them throughout the day. When friends and family are scattered around the country and the world, being all together is impossible. But this time of the year is the one time they can all be here with me and my family and I with them- even if it’s just through a photo on a card.


(This post was written in partnership with Paperless Post, where you can get create and send invitations, holiday cards, and more!)

Living Monday after a Sunday Tragedy

How do I write about the mass shooting that happened in our beloved city, the worst one our country has yet to experience? How do I put words to the anger, confusion, grief, and disconnect I felt? Even those words miss the mark.

Monday was the same as every other Monday, except it wasn’t. I yell at the the kids to hurry up and get in the car so we can make it to school on time, but on our way I carefully tell them what happened. I tell them a man hurt a lot of people, that some of them died, and they respond in pure childlikeness: “That wasn’t nice.”

No, sweet babies, it wasn’t.

I force myself to read the articles, to take in the numbers of deaths, of those injured. Like a mother, I want to put my arms around Las Vegas- the place we called home- and hold it while it cries, to protect it from the good intentions of those who mean well but who don’t know it like we do, who haven’t lived there and love it like we do. For once I don’t have the capacity to keep scrolling, so I close my computer and walk away from my desk…

Read the rest of my post at The Mudroom today! 

Without Hope the Soul Is Unwell

At the end of August, we will have been in California for a full year. Others who made similar uprooting transitions before told me it would take at least a year to adjust, two years to finally feel settled, and it’s been true for us so far. The blessings, the benefits, the bright side of living here with family and near friends have been undeniably good though each good thing has been tinged with a darkness around the edges. Depression laying like an abyss in the background of my mind. Nightmares invading peaceful sleep for the kids (and then for us when they cry and scream). Old wounds coming up fresh in our marriage and working hard to know and love each other well again.

June was a particularly hard month— the tension of darkness and stress formed a pressure I couldn’t bear anymore. I lost hope and reason to keep going.

I’m over at the The Mudroom today talking about hope and my soul’s wellness:

I told my husband I felt like shattered pieces of glass lying on the floor with no one to help me, no one who knew how to put me back together. The cracks in myself, in our marriage, in my parenting had come to a pressure point, and the pieces that were held in tension gave way.

My survival technique of sucking it up and doing the next thing helped me get to where I was, but it left me exhausted and depressed. I had no energy to figure out how to disciple my kids in faith, to work harder toward health in our marriage, to know whether I was going through a bout of depression or recognizing a long-term struggle with it. I just knew I couldn’t go any further. I wanted to pause time, to escape for a moment to some place where I could breathe, to break away from the clinging and whining, and be still, at peace. But the fantasies of escaping turned dark, and even though I looked fine on the outside, I wasn’t well within.

Read the rest at The Mudroom.